contentgrrl

I am conTENT. My work is CONtent.

LinkedIn Does A Better Job of Communicating

Posted by contentgrrl on January 23, 2012


OopsSurprising phrase in an email from LinkedIn:

We could have done a much better job communicating about this change, so we want to clarify what this may mean to you…

This was the second message I’ve gotten about its changing feature set for displaying Twitter feeds.

The first alert had left me wondering if my Tweets would still update my LinkedIn status stream. This second message clarified that this service was still intact and unaffected by the change.

Now, Alsup’s Number 8 of 18 Immutable Laws of Corporate Reputation is to recognize your shortcomings. “We could have done a much better job of communicating” rang very loud about the faux pas. Think for a minute: LinkedIn might have been a little quieter about their previous oversight. But if they had left out that statement, the message would have come off as a high-handed afterthought, as though the audience was too dumb to realize the previously unspoken detail.

So that statement:

  • Brings LinkedIn down a notch
  • Keeps their reputation friendly and self-deprecating
  • Fulfills that rhetorical appeal of Ethos, or character. Kudos!

Ideally, when alerting customers about a change in services, you include a little disambiguation from the get-go. A good writer knows to anticipate and define terms the audience may find confusing. The writer’s challenge is to select details that will clearly support the purpose of the alert, while assuaging their biggest concerns and promoting a positive reputation for the organization.

In the first message, LinkedIn could indeed have done a better job of distinguishing the Twitter feed box being discontinued from a related feature that automatically integrates Tweets into your LinkedIn status updates.

But they freely admitted their oversight. Bonus, they successfully communicated the difference, while educating members about a feature that many might not have known was available.

It’s good public relations, too. If you want to temper bad news where you must take something away from your customers, come back to admit an oversight and highlight something great that you offer for free!

I may steal this trick sometime in the future. Shhh…

Two questions for discussion:

  1. What did you think of LinkedIn’s decision to remove the Tweets box from member profiles?
  2. What other examples have you seen of companies turning bad news around?
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